This will be my final post of the year, and I apologize that the end of the year was much more sporadic in the posts. Life can happen to all of us and the past month or two have been particularly difficult. I wanted to post a summary of the final books of the Book of Mormon, and some thoughts about key scripture passages that matter to me. So as you read the post, hopefully you can find some inspiration for yourself, or something you can share with your families.
The picture in this post is a new painting that we purchased for our home and it made me think of one of the scriptures I focus on this week. It is the Lord walking and a sick woman reaching out to touch the hem of his robe. She believed if she could just touch him that she would be healed. Of course she was healed and it shows us that the grace of Jesus Christ is available to all of us, and there is sufficient for each of us.
I, like many of you, am looking forward to 2021 and hope that next year we can find some sense of normalcy again in in our lives. However, even if that doesn’t happen I can state firmly to you all that I know Jesus Christ loves you and me. He really does, and I have had enough experiences to know that His love can change people and His grace truly is sufficient to change even the worst of people. This world we live in is so obsessed with information, secular ideas, instant gratification, and selfishness. It is so easy to get distracted, but true peace and true happiness is found in the arms of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is found in letting our burdens go, letting our pride go, looking for help through sincere prayer, helping others in selfless giving, and just letting our hearts feel and give love. I hope that you all can have a sense of peace and love this week. I want you to know I love you and I would do anything for you.
CHAPTERS FOR STUDY WEEK 42-48 – Mormon, Ether, and Moroni
– Almost all of us will experience something horrific, painful, or devastating. The gospel is an anchor to our souls that can bring hope and relief.
– Weakness and opposition are a necessary part of life. They force us to choose between humility and God’s help and pride and a rejection of God’s help. If we choose God’s help then His grace can change us, but it will lead to more opposition and discovery of weakness.
– Through the true prayer of faith we can know the truth of things from God directly.
History and Context:
– Mormon – compiler and author of the Book of Mormon. Military Leader and father of Moroni.
– Moroni – Son of Mormon, vagabond, translator of the Book of Ether, and returning angel that assisted Joseph Smith in recovering the plates.
– Babel – There is a lot of confusion about Babel, both biblically and in the Book of Ether. The first and main point is that there is very unlikely one “Tower of Babel,” in fact, there are likely hundreds of them because when we trace the history of languages backward we find a few hundred “root languages” that are the source of the over 5,000 languages we know of. At nearly every tracing we will find the ancients building towers to the heavens to connect the earth with the heavens. This is such a common thing that the story of Babel is likely a true story in relation to actually happening, but it is unlikely the root of all languages, only a type and an example of such. This means, most importantly, that the Brother of Jared may not have been at the biblical story of Babel at all, and most likely weren’t based on chronology, but they likely were at another tower and it was interpreted by Mosiah, Moroni, or Joseph Smith to be the same Babel in the bible.
– The Brother of Jared – spiritual leader of the Jaredites and one of the first people to see Jesus Christ (Jehovah). The faith of the Brother of Jared was that of Enoch and others and studying his words and life is a great way to see the example of how to build faith.
– Ether – final prophet of the Jaredite people, warning them of their destruction, he was driven out of the land and records their final years.
– Secret Combinations – The ending of spiritual civilizations are expedited by what the authors of the Book of Mormon call secret combinations. These are groups of people who dissent from the truth and form groups of people who make oaths (mirroring the oaths of the temple) to destroy the church and believers of God. Dissenters are the true crux of the Book of Mormon, they show that those who leave the truth are often found to be those seeking its destruction. There are a deeper group of people who take the dissension into a world of oathtaking, and evil actions that cause a lot of harm to the people of God. There were groups like this all through the ancient civilizations.
– Cumorah – Many people assume that the Hill Cumorah, site of the final Nephite battle, is the same as the Hill Cumorah where Moroni deposits the plates. This not likely to be the case, the Hill Cumorah was likely in Mesoamerica, and its name may have travelled or been affixed to the Hill in NY, where Joseph found the plates, but they are not the same hills. We do not know how the plates arrived in NY, but it is likely a 35 year journey for Moroni, who never says exactly where he is going or where he deposits the plates in the record. There are no archeological findings near or around the NY hill to suggest a battle.
– Timeline 345 AD – 411 AD
The final words written by Mormon at the end of the compilation are some of the more depressing and sad words. Mormon knew the outcome the entire time, warning the readers the entire way through to focus on Christ, and to have humility, and to repent, because at the end of his life he witnessed the destruction of his people. He did not just witness it from afar, but first hand as their military leader. His descriptions of the hardness of their hearts, and the distance between their souls and God is heart wrenching. Ultimately, he passes his master work, the compilation of the Book of Mormon to his son, Moroni for safe keeping. Moroni does introduce a number of letter written from Mormon as well, but ultimately Mormon’s testimony of Christ is so much more powerful because he witnessed the ramifications of a people who abandoned Christ.
The record of the Jaredites, who came to the Americas thousands of years before Lehi, is a second witness to Mormon’s warnings. It has clearly been summarized by not only Moroni, but also Mosiah before him to show that the same things that brought about the end of Nephite civilization brought an end to the Jaredites, particularly those whose traditions included believing in the Messiah. In this record we learn of a very righteous man, the Brother of Jared, who was able to see and learn from the Lord and save his people by bringing them across the seas. They have the gospel foundation, but over time secret combinations, pride, wealth, and contention bring about their demise. We learn of the end of the civilization from a prophet named Ether who compiled the record and left us with the history.
The final section of the Book of Mormon, is the words written by Moroni. He buries the record twice, only to recover it and add more things that he feels inspired to record. He gives us warnings, a few letters from his father, and finally his final testimony. Moroni must have travelled several thousand miles in the final 35 years of his life before burying the plates where Joseph Smith recovered them 1400 years later.
I have taken the section of scripture that mattered the most to me in each book and recorded them below, along with my thoughts about them:
Key Moment or Scripture: Mormon 9:15-21, Ether 12:4-6 & 27, Moroni 10:3-5
15 And now, O all ye that have imagined up unto yourselves a god who can do no miracles, I would ask of you, have all these things passed, of which I have spoken? Has the end come yet? Behold I say unto you, Nay; and God has not ceased to be a God of miracles.
16 Behold, are not the things that God hath wrought marvelous in our eyes? Yea, and who can comprehend the marvelous works of God?
17 Who shall say that it was not a miracle that by his word the heaven and the earth should be; and by the power of his word man was created of the dust of the earth; and by the power of his word have miracles been wrought?
18 And who shall say that Jesus Christ did not do many mighty miracles? And there were many mighty miracles wrought by the hands of the apostles.
19 And if there were miracles wrought then, why has God ceased to be a God of miracles and yet be an unchangeable Being? And behold, I say unto you he changeth not; if so he would cease to be God; and he ceaseth not to be God, and is a God of miracles.
20 And the reason why he ceaseth to do miracles among the children of men is because that they dwindle in unbelief, and depart from the right way, and know not the God in whom they should trust.
21 Behold, I say unto you that whoso believeth in Christ, doubting nothing, whatsoever he shall ask the Father in the name of Christ it shall be granted him; and this promise is unto all, even unto the ends of the earth.
I love this statement from Mormon. 1600 years ago Mormon was dealing with the same attitudes that we have now. The easy path is the path of disbelief, it is so much easier to not believe, or discount other’s belief in order to avoid confronting our own weaknesses and lack of faith. To admit that miracles happen is to admit that we likely haven’t spent the time to build our faith. However, as the next scripture sections shows, the process of rebuilding faith isn’t complicated, but it is difficult. I have seen miracles and so I can add my voice to Mormon’s, but I also have been through times where I doubted miracles exist, and in evaluating the differences almost 100% percent of the difference was tied to my humility and commitment to the Lord.
4 Wherefore, whoso believeth in God might with surety hope for a better world, yea, even a place at the right hand of God, which hope cometh of faith, maketh an anchor to the souls of men, which would make them sure and steadfast, always abounding in good works, being led to glorify God.
5 And it came to pass that Ether did prophesy great and marvelous things unto the people, which they did not believe, because they saw them not.
6 And now, I, Moroni, would speak somewhat concerning these things; I would show unto the world that faith is things which are hoped for and not seen; wherefore, dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith.
27 And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.
- Faith in the face of trials = Hope
- Hope = anchor and foundation built on Christ
- Foundation built of Christ = Humility to come unto Christ and ask for help with our weakness.
My favorite scripture in the Book of Mormon is Ether 12:27. Christ tells us straight up that His Grace is Sufficient. It is enough to change us, it is enough to help us, it is enough to protect us, and it is given to us willingly if we just ask for it. We just have to admit we need help. Removing the shackles of pride is the most difficult action a person can take, but if we have faith in Christ and remove that shackle and approach the Lord asking for help, His grace will change us and our foundation will be firm forever.
3 Behold, I would exhort you that when ye shall read these things, if it be wisdom in God that ye should read them, that ye would remember how merciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men, from the creation of Adam even down until the time that ye shall receive these things, and ponder it in your hearts.
4 And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.
5 And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.
I honestly cannot count how many times I have read these three verses, or asked people to read them, but it is in the thousands. They are most commonly used to help people who are searching out whether the Book of Mormon is truly from God or not. This is the formula for receiving that answer to their prayers. However, I think they are more than just that. This formula is also found in the temple when talking about prayer and its true power.
- Remember the Grace of God
- Remember where you started, how you have progressed, and how you have changed as you have become closer to Christ.
- After you have spent time remembering your progression and God’s grace in your life, you will be in the frame of mind to pray.
- Combine the following three things into your vocal prayer:
- Sincere Heart – true desire to know something, or for help
- Real Intent – willingness to act or change
- Faith in Christ – belief that Christ can help you accomplish, or survive whatever you go through.
- The Holy Ghost is a key part of the prayer:
- The prayer of faith means the Spirit inspires the words of the prayer
- The Holy Ghost will put feelings and ideas into your mind that will either be the truth, or the path to the truth
- This process can be used for anything and can help us be closer to the Lord. It is an involved process, not a short perfunctory prayer, it takes emotions, time, effort, and time afterward to hear and listen.
2021 brings with it the Doctrine and Covenants. It will be a really cool year of study, and the third in my journey to document and blog post all the standard works. At the half way point I feel like I have been inspired and found so much new knowledge and inspiration. The year of 2020 will likely never be forgotten, and for me personally it has been pretty difficult, but through it I have seen small tender mercies, small answers to prayers, and blessings that I am so grateful for. I love Jesus Christ and I am so thankful for my faith in Him.
- Second Witness: Analytical and Contextual Commentary on the Book of Mormon by Brant Gardner
- The Book of Mormon as History by Brant Gardner
- Understanding the Book of Mormon by Grant Hardy
- The Book of Mormon Made Harder by James Faulconer